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I just returned home from a crazy round-the-world trip with my parents, and to say I’m behind on my holiday shopping would be an understatement. Luckily, I’ve got a boatload of American Express points by maximizing my spending on my Platinum Card from American Express, which gives me 5x points on airfare, and on my Business Gold Rewards Card, which gives 3x points in one of the following categories:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • US purchases for advertising in select media
  • US purchases at gas stations
  • US purchases for shipping
  • US computer hardware, software and cloud computing made directly from select providers
  • 2x in all other categories and 1x on everything else.

By maximizing my personal and business spend, I’ve got well over one million American Express Membership Rewards points, and I plan on using them for gifts for my family members, friends and employees this holiday season. Here are some of the best ways to redeem Membership Rewards points for gifts.

In my opinion, travel is the best gift you can give anyone — especially if you can give your time and travel together. But even if you can’t go on a trip with someone you love, Membership Rewards points can be used for travel in a number of different ways.

Membership Rewards offers cardholders the opportunity to transfer points to 20 reward program partners:

  • Airlines: Aeromexio, Aeroplan, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Alitalia, ANA, Asia Miles, British Airways, Delta, El Al, Emirates, Etihad, Hawaiian, Iberia, JetBlue, Singapore, Virgin America
  • Hotels: Choice, Hilton, SPG
  • Other: Plenti

I get the most value transferring Membership Rewards points to partners because I can redeem them for first and business-class tickets. For example, I recently transferred 68,000 points to British Airways (plus $462 in taxes/fees) to fly first class from London to Accra — a flight that would have cost more than $11,669 to buy. My 68,000 Amex MR saved me more than $11,000, netting me 16 cents a point! And the kicker is that my parents and I ended up being the only people in the cabin, so it felt like our own private jet.

While I got a great redemption there, you need to make sure award availability exists before transferring. While most transfers are instant, sometimes it can take up to 48 hours for points to transfer (like with Singapore Airlines). I love Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer because that is the only way you can redeem for the carrier’s first class and Suites product, which is incredible (you get to choose either Dom Perignon OR Krug!).

I recently used 92,000 American Express Membership Rewards points to fly from Singapore to Hong Kong to San Francisco — an awesome flight with a huge first-class seat. Note that you can only transfer Membership Rewards points to your loyalty accounts, but you can book awards for others from most loyalty programs.

Pay With Points allows you to redeem for 1 cent per point toward airfare, so a $1,000 flight would cost 100,000 Membership Rewards points. Note that if you have the Business Platinum Card from American Express you get a 35% rebate, so that $1,000 flight would only cost 65,000 Membership Rewards points, getting you just more than 1.5 cents a piece. My Business Centurion gets me a 50% rebate, so 2 cents per point in value. You can book a flight for anyone using Pay With Points.

You can also redeem for Uber at 1 cent per Membership Rewards point.

Hotels can be redeem at the rate of 0.7 cents per Membership Rewards point, so $700 in hotels will cost 100,000 Membership Rewards.

You can also redeem for a variety of gift cards at varying value per Membership Rewards point:

  • 1 cent per Membership Reward point (for example, $1,000 in gift cards for 100,000 points) at most retail outlets.
  • 0.7 cents per Membership Rewards point with Delta, Hotels.com and Ritz-Carlton to name a few.
  • 0.5 cents per Membership Rewards point for American Express gift cards, so a $500 gift card is 100,000 points

You can also make a donation to your preferred charity, for example the PeaceJam foundation, which is our charity of choice at TPG. The charity receives 1 cent per point, up to 500,000 points a year, and 0.5 cents after that. So 10,000 Membership Rewards points = $100 toward the cause, and you also get the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference in the world. For a full list of charities go here.

No matter what you want to buy for the loved ones in your life, you can use American Express Membership Rewards points to do it!

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.